Introduce yourself: Tell us your background, where you live, and what you do?
Hola. My name is Tony and I’m an entrepreneur, musician, and nomad.
I’ve been working on startups since 2008. I hate the status quo. In 2013, I sold all my stuff and continued my work while traveling the world. I’m not into counting countries but some recent highlights include surfing the coast of Ecuador, Salsa dancing in the Dominican Republic, and soaking in the free tapa scene of the incredible Granada, Spain. I don’t have rules but I like to spend a few months in each city.
Since my current startup work is somewhat stealthy, I’ll point to Sidewalk as my latest professional endeavor which was a mostly bootstrapped data company that I continue to run.
I also love writing music and making weird faces with my guitar.
What language are you learning and why are you learning it?
I’m winding down my time learning Spanish as I speak quite well now and am interested in my next language. I chose Spanish because it’s spoken in so many places around the world. It can actually be hard to hang around Miami without speaking Spanish! Besides that, the first places I wanted to travel (Mexico, Spain, Argentina) are all Spanish speaking.
Share your first A-HA moment with us: The moment when you felt that your language skills advanced to the next level. How long did it take to achieve this result?
My Spanish learning experience has been filled with these A-HA moments and I still have them today, even though Spanish-speaking friends call me fluent (I’m technically not even close). These moments come when I’m in an English-impossible situation for more than 2 days. I find going back and forth to be tough but if I can’t speak any English for a couple days, Spanish because very natural to me and I actually can find it annoying to switch back to English.
Tell us about your learning schedule. What time of the day do you take your lessons and how much time do you spend learning per week? How do you find time to take lessons with your busy schedule?
While I don’t take lessons currently after learning Spanish already, I find the way to improve is to constantly learn. I would say when I am in a Spanish speaking country, I make a continual non-scheduled effort to learn.
Who was your teacher(s) at Rype, and why did you select him/her as your teacher?
Mariel and I think she was the only available teacher when I started! She’s fantastic and I would definitely want to use her again if I started lessons.
Could you share some top language tools and resources you use to learn a language?
The way I learn now is probably a bit unique as I only learn from people. I write down new phrases in my iPhone notes app and eventually they get transferred to a very large cheat sheet I have on my computer. Anytime I hear a new word or realize I didn’t fully understand how to use a word, I favorite the word in Spanishdict which also has some solid examples. I also try to immerse myself in Spanish speaking videos and the occasional article but I’m pretty irresponsible about that stuff.
What are your top recommendations and tips for new language learners?
The biggest challenge with actually getting good at a language is local dialects and actually parsing the spoken word into something you can look up. In my honest opinion, that only comes with experience and specifically, English-impossible ones!
By far the best resource is people. Get out on the streets (or use Rype) and make friends with people who speak the language you want to learn, and don’t be shy of annoying them about what certain phrases and words mean if you don’t know.